In my teen years I spent all my summers in my home country Portugal. From the first day of school in September I would dream of being at my grandparent’s country home/farm and how it always made me feel at peace. There is something about the solitude of country life that really puts me at ease and calms my mind.
My grandfather had bicycles in the courtyard of his house, so he could have his grandchildren ride through the town and go anywhere they pleased. There was no threat of any thing or anyone in the small town. One summer, I was 15 years old, my sister and I made some friends that lived in the same town and we were invited to cycle to the beach. The moment it was offered, I was excited and wanted to leave that second and not wait for the next morning. Little did I know that the beach was 6 kms away and going to the beach was mostly downhill. My naive young mind did not even realize the brutal effort I would have to exert on the way back home. I spent 10 hours everyday at the beach under a hot beating sun, swimming in some of the strongest tides in Portugal, playing soccer on the beach and walking 3-4 kms on the beach. Half way through the summer 6 kms seemed so easy and my body became a lean muscular machine. I was ready to cycle the Tour de France and all I wanted was to cycle. I played soccer, and took up running as a leisure exercise.
That all ended in my twenties as my priority changed from self improvement to running after girls and partying until the sun rose and set again. My exercise stamina diminished and now is non-existent.
I had spent a good decade wasting my time on spending money and a meaningless lifestyle. I was running towards something but I had no clue where I was going. I wanted a fast life but couldn’t understand why my life had no meaning. I desperately wanted people to show me my worth but constantly did things for people to not find any worth in who I was.
When my grandfather passed away, it was as if part of my childhood was also dead. The only happiness I had in my young years was in Portugal. Living in Canada was just painful, to say the least. Today, I understand why I went through that pain and I appreciate the lesson Canada has taught me. My grandfather passing is also what changed my mind set. I left Canada with my brother and we went to Portugal to pay our respects and also hold and comfort our grandmother, who we so loved. She is such an amazing soul. My brother and I landed in Portugal and within 3 hours we were at the beach. We decided not to sleep, we had landed at 11 am. We decided to take a dip in the ocean and we went out far enough where we estimated it to be at least 10 feet deep we were treading water and we both looked back at the beach. We couldn’t hear anything. We both looked at each other and almost in sync laughed and said,
“Do you realize 11 hours ago we were in shithole Canada.” Actually, we said something like, we were in colder weather, but we meant shithole.
Years later, both of us would have a profound revelation which would alter our way of life as we know it. I also took a few seconds to take in the peace and quiet of that moment. I took a deep breath and felt at peace. In one clear moment, as clear as that sunny afternoon in Portugal when I was facing the death of one of the most profound human beings in my life, I realized, I can only feel pure happiness, calm and peace of mind in Portugal. I also learned, never underestimate the power of just floating in the ocean. Having to swim is so overrated. Life comes in waves, some small, some large, but almost always the waves are trying to guide you to shore. A shore where you can breathe and feel safe from all the harm out in the wild waters. Most of the time I don’t want to keep swimming, I would rather tread water and allow the ocean to guide me to where she wants me to go.